A Chilean court orders the Catholic Church to pay compensation for the abuses

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SANTIAGO (Reuters) – The Chilean Court of Appeals ordered the office of the archbishop of Santiago to pay 450 million pesos ($ 650,000) to three men who claimed to have been sexually abused for decades from the Chilean priest Fernando Karadima, said the president. Sunday a local newspaper.

James Hamilton and Juan Andrés Murillo, victims of sexual abuse by the clergy in Chile, attend a court in which they seek compensation in a civil suit in Santiago, Chile, October 18, 2018. REUTERS / Ivan Alvarado

Citing a copy of a leaked resolution, the newspaper La Tercera said that the three judges who heard the case on Thursday approved an appeal for "moral damages" against the Church for allegedly concealing the crimes.

The case was previously rejected by a lower court for lack of evidence.

Reuters could not confirm the report independently. The Archdiocese of Santiago, which could appeal to the Supreme Court of Chile, said it was considering measures to be taken.

If confirmed by the court on Monday, it would be the first payment order for compensation for damages that would have been presented against the powerful Catholic church in Chile for a sex abuse and cover scandal that led Pope Francis to apologize to his faithful.

In a statement in response to information published, the archdiocese of Santiago made it clear that it did not know the court's ruling, but that it should have studied it and the recent developments of the case before deciding how to act.

"Although we do not know the resolution, in the last few days a new antecedent has been added for the cause, which we did not know about, and we have to analyze this situation, together with the ruling, to resolve the steps", he said in a brief statement.

The legal experts have said that it could pave the way for further complaints after hundreds of people have come forward to say they have been abused and prosecutors have launched dozens of new investigations.

In a statement celebrating the verdict, the plaintiffs James Hamilton, José Andrés Murillo and Juan Carlos Cruz, who were invited to Rome at the beginning of this year to give the Pope their testimony, said the news is the culmination of "a long, full of difficulties and with a high personal and family cost".

"We are witnessing an important cultural change, in which the abuses of the powerful begin to be considered unacceptable, and justice is showing it", they added in the joint declaration.

His lawyer, Juan Pablo Hermosilla, told Reuters that they believed that the newspaper's information was credible, but added: "I still have no official confirmation".

Karadima worked for the archdiocese of Santiago as a pastor in the rich neighborhood of El Bosque for 21 years between 1985 and 2006.

With 88 years and living in a retirement home in the capital, Karadima has always denied abuse allegations.

He was never accused by the civil authorities because the limitation period for these crimes had expired. Although he was found guilty of sexual abuse in a Vatican investigation in 2011 and last month he was expelled from the Pope.

On the other hand, in an interview with the daily El Mercurio, the Chilean national prosecutor, Jorge Abbott, said he was frustrated because the promise made by the Vatican investigators on a new era of cooperation with civil authorities is not been satisfied.

"We had hoped for more collaboration, so that the responsible people would appear, declare, that we could come to establish the existence or not of the facts, since they have had victims for so many years that they have the right to be repaired, know the truth, "he added.

Information from Aislinn Laing; Modified in Spanish by Juana Casas

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